Penan – ‘We will keep on the struggle for our forest forever’

Malaysian logging company Interhill has dismantled a road blockade mounted in Sarawak by members of the Penan tribe to prevent the company cutting down their forest. Government officials have told another Penan community that their road blockade will be dismantled on Sunday.

Workers from Interhill Logging Sdn. Bhd., a Malaysian timber company based in Miri, dismantled a Penan logging road blockade near Ba Abang in the Middle Baram region of Sarawak on 5 July. Penan sources report that an unknown number of policemen were brought to the area, supported by the Federal Reserve Unit, a specially organized police unit trained to quell riots and disperse ‘unlawful assemblies'. The police are searching the area for the Penan who set up the blockade on 16 June.

In a separate development, the Penan of Long Benali report that the government official in charge of the area has announced that another road blockade further up the Baram river will be dismantled on Sunday 9 July. This blockade was set up by the Penan in February 2004 to mark their community boundary, and to prevent the bulldozers of the Miri-based logging giant Samling from encroaching further into their territory. According to the Penan, Samling intends to build a road up to the Kelabit community of Long Lellang to exploit one of the last remaining primary rainforest areas of Sarawak.

‘Please support us and stay strongly behind us. Ask the police not to use force against us on our land. We, the Penan communities, will keep on the struggle for our forest for ever.'

With this dramatic appeal, the headmen of the Penan communities in the 4th and 5th Division of Sarawak, Malaysia, have asked politicians, lawyers, NGOs, government officials, the media and the general public to support their struggle for their rights to their land and their last remaining forests.

Please help the Penan by expressing your concern about the situation with a polite letter, email, or fax to one of the following addresses:

1) SUHAKAM
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
Level 29
Menara Tun Razak
Jalan Raja Laut
50350 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

Fax: +60 3 261 256 20
Email: [email protected]

2) Royal Malaysian Police
Cawangan Perhubungan Awam
Polis Diraja Malaysia
Ibu Pejabat Polis Bukit Aman
50560 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

Email: [email protected]

3) Interhill Logging Sdn. Bhd.
Fax: +60 85 437 318

4) The Samling Group
Email: [email protected]


Source: Bruno Manser Fonds, Association for the Peoples of the Rainforest, Basel, Switzerland